While so many men his age get out of bed in the morning with their knees creaking and their backs cracking, Guy Dupuis is getting set for his 21st season in professional hockey, his 13th with the Komets.
So far, so good. Not too many knees or joints cracking right now, Dupuis said, as he readied to hit the ice for the first practice of the 2010-11 season, Fort Waynes first in the Central Hockey League.
Dupuis has racked up myriad accolades with the Komets – he has won the teams Defenseman of the Year award eight times, taking the leaguewide honor three times – and hes served as team captain the past four seasons.
The last three seasons, he helped the Komets win playoff championships in the IHL.
But at age 40, heading into a league with typically younger, faster skaters, will Dupuis be vivacious enough to keep up?
I was hoping that all these young kids on the team would rejuvenate me and Ill feel younger, skate faster than these guys. Maybe Ill get a second wind, well see, Dupuis said. Every year, the first few days of camp, everyone seems a little faster to me. But after a week or two, Im right back to everybodys speed, and Im expecting the same thing this year.
Coach Al Sims said its fair to wonder what Dupuis role will be in the CHL.
Well see, Sims said. It seems like the start of every year, Guy takes a lot of hooking penalties and things like that, until he gets up to speed, but usually by mid-year and in the playoffs, you dont see him taking that many penalties.
Last season, Dupuis had 14 goals and 43 points – his fewest points since 2004-05 – but he had three goals and a career-best 11 points in the playoffs.
Hes like the Energizer bunny; he just keeps on ticking, Sims said. He was a huge cog for the defense in the playoffs, when we won another championship, and he plays his best down the stretch and in the playoffs.
No one questions Dupuis character in the locker room or his work ethic on the ice, where he almost always puts in extra time after practice.
Personally, I have to do that to stay sharp and atop my game, said Dupuis, a third-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1988. I invite young guys to do it. I dont force anyone to do it. But after practice, I think if a lot of guys see older guys do extra, they feel like, Hey, that older guy is doing it, and maybe it gives them a little nudge.
Dupuis will continue to see plenty of special-teams work. But Frankie DeAngelis and Brandon Warner can shoulder more of the load on the power play, and Danko Mironovic and Craig Cescon will kill penalties, too.
Guy is phenomenal. Hes a rarity nowadays, that he would stay with one team for as long as he has, play at a high level for as long as he has, general manager David Franke said. How much longer will he continue to play? I dont know. Its a year-to-year deal with him.